WAT Highlights: Six Black-Owned Travel Businesses To Support
Updated: 4 days ago
As the world continues to open up amid COVID and after the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, travelers move in a more mindful direction. For those looking to plan their next adventure, here are six Black-owned businesses that we recommend that will help put your plans in place.
NOMADNESS Travel Tribe
NOMADNESS acts as an influencer for millennial explorers of color. Through planned trips, media content, and travel innovation, it promotes a mission of travel for all people. Since its foundation in September 2011, NOMADNESS’s Tribe has grown to include over 20,000 members. To join the Tribe, participants need only a passport stamp and plenty of enthusiasm.
In addition to their trips, NOMADNESS ran the first U.S. conference for millennial travelers of color, the #NMDN ALTERnative Travel Conference. It also sells merch through its online store, NOMADNESSMERCH.COM.
The NOMADNESS Project, web series, documents Tribe trips on Youtube. Issa Rae, the show’s co-producer, has made Forbe’s 30 Under 30 list and starred in HBO’s four-season comedy, Insecure. Her series The Misadventures of an Awkward Black Girl achieved a Shorty Award for Best Web Show.
NOMADNESS’s founder, Evita Turquoise Robinson, gave the first TED Talk on the Black travel movement. She visited the White House under the Obama Administration for South by South Lawn (SXSL), a 2016 festival celebrating cutting-edge creators. She started NOMADNESS after a life-changing trip to Paris, and she has visited 30 countries since.
Akwaaba Bed and Breakfast Inns
Since her first bed and breakfast in 1995, Monique Greenwood has established six within the Akwaaba brand. Alongside her husband, Glenn Pogue, she’s opened unique hotels across the U.S. Her locations wow guests with personal service, beautiful décor, and all the unique charms inherent in boutique hotels.
Akwaaba’s original location is the renowned Akwaaba Mansion. In the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, the renovated Italianate villa from the 1860s offers four luxury suites. The Jumping the Broom, Regal Retreat, Ashante, and Black Memorabilia Suites share the house with the owners’ autumn home. A personal, elegant focus had defined the Mansion for twenty-two years. HGTV featured it on Restore America.
Next, Akwaaba expanded to Washington, D.C. They refurbished a historic building in the stylish Dupont Circle area into a charming hotel. Greenwood named each of Akwaaba DC’s six rooms after an author or literary genre. Whether guests choose to stay in the Zora Neale Hurston or the Poetry room, they can expect romantic flair.
In 2006, Greenwood and Pogue bought the first bed and breakfast they’d ever stayed in together. They turned the Annabel Lee Guest House, an 1850 cottage in Cape May, New Jersey, into the cozy, seaside Buttonwood Manor. Large family groups can rent there.
Travelers can also find Akwaaba luxury at Akwaaba Philadelphia, New Orleans’s Akwaaba in the Bayou, and the Poconos Mountains’ Mansion at Noble Lane. Greenwood and Pogue move seasonally between their bed and breakfasts, keeping each location going with their personal touch.
Henderson Travel Agency
When Freddye and Jake Henderson founded the Henderson Travel Agency, they created the first African American owned travel agency in the U.S. The agency launched in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1955, and it still organizes unforgettable trips today.
Initially, the Agency coordinated trips to Europe for African American travelers. At the time, Black Americans faced significant travel discrimination, and the Hendersons wished to make it more accessible. Commercial airlines wouldn’t fly to Africa, so in 1957, they chartered a plane to Ghana. A group of tourists went on a landmark trip to celebrate Ghana’s independence.
Henderson Travel Agency has earned many awards for its work. In 1982, the American Society of Travel Agents awarded Freddye Henderson with its highest honor, the Joseph W. Rosenbluth Memorial Award. Dr. Gaynelle Henderson, who took the company over in 1984, achieved the U.S. Department of Transportation Administrator’s Award for women business leaders. In 2013, the company attained the African Diaspora World Tourism Award. Henderson Travel Agency, and its leaders, have consistently gained recognition for both excellence in travel and historical importance in the African Diaspora.
The Agency currently runs a variety of international tours, including trips to Cuba, South Africa, Senegal, and many more. They organize activities, guides, and accommodations for travelers. Henderson Travel Agency continues to run yearly trips to Ghana, honoring the country’s culture and long connection to the Agency itself.
The Oak Bluffs Inn
The whimsical Oak Bluffs Inn boasts pastel siding, a wrap-around porch, and its very own lighthouse. This nautical element reflects the Inn’s seaside home in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, the renowned summer island rich with history and natural landmarks. Architect Mark Hutker added the lighthouse in the 1970s, building off the original 1870 home.
The Oak Bluffs Inn is the first on Martha’s Vineyard owned and frequented by Black Americans. In the decades to follow, the Oak Bluffs Inn became a foundational vacation spot for Black travelers and a string of famous guests. Barrack Obama, Wynton Marsalis, bell hooks, and more have all stayed within its walls. Its historical significance affords it a spot on the Vineyard’s African American Heritage Trail.
In 1998, Rhonda and Erik Albert purchased the Inn and made it their own. They maintain ten unique rooms with their stylistic quirks. The two carriage house spaces work great for larger groups, and Room Two contains a reading nook. Each morning, Erik makes a renowned breakfast for guests.
Oak Bluffs Inn makes for beach-going convenience. Surf and sand are a five-minute walk away, and the Inn provides towels, chairs, and umbrellas. It maintains a blog for activities to do on a stay in Martha’s Vineyard. The Oak Bluffs Inn offers family-friendly accommodations. As of June 15th, it has opened for business with safety precautions in place.
Travel Noire empowers Black millennials to experience the world. As a digital media company, it creates online communities and produces relevant content on travel. It has served as an organizational space for hundreds of trips; its members have visited every continent. It aims to make travel inclusive, representative, and accessible for travelers of color.
Travel Noire focuses on an elegant and sustainable lifestyle built around travel. Its parent company, Blavity Inc, owns various brands for Black millennials. These include Shadow and Act, an entertainment industry news site, 21Ninety, beauty and lifestyle brand, and Afrotech, a company for entrepreneurship in the tech industry.
Travel Noire’s founder, Zim Ugochukwu, has made Forbes’s 30 under 30 lists for young, influential entrepreneurs. She was the youngest appointed precinct judge in North Carolina. She is a member of Oprah’s SuperSoul 100, a prestigious list of leaders whose work “elevates humanity.” She has a lifelong history with travel, and she’s a fundamental leader in the Black Travel Movement.
La Maison In Midtown
La Maison In Midtown, a charming three-story bed, and breakfast enjoy a centralized location in Houston, Texas. Near the Theater and Museum Districts and Houston’s shopping centers provide guests with chic lodgings for an unforgettable vacation.
Genora Boykins and Sharon Owens purchased La Maison’s land in 1999. They’d worked together in business before, and they sought to expand their efforts to the hospitality industry. They spent ten years creating a business plan, building the hotel, and gathering capital. They opened La Maison’s doors in 2010 to glowing reviews. They aimed to create a cozy space amidst a bustling city, and reviews on sites like TripAdvisor attest to their success.
La Maison provides breakfasts with “Southern flare” and several cozy common spaces, including a parlor, living room, and dining room. It features seven guest rooms with effortless elegance. La Maison made BedandBreakfast.com’s Top 10 Inns for Business Travel, and it has been featured on Forbes, Travel + Leisure, and Good Black News. The hotel is currently open with increased health and safety policies.
Written by Olivia Cipperman